Concept evaluation

1. Definition
Concept or conceptualization evaluation is the analysis and evaluation of correlations between situations analysis, strategy and tactics, and PR concept measures. Elements evaluated include baseline data, systematics of the methods, and the comprehensibility of the PR concept in terms of the set objectives. Concept evaluation is designed to explore the quality of the PR concept and is performed before the PR program is implemented.

2. Applications
Concept evaluations can be used for communication controlling to check the consistency of the baseline situation, communication goals, messages and target groups, and verify the measurability of the goals formulated in the concept. As this happens before the communication program is actually carried out, modifications may be made.

All elements of a concept (analysis of baseline situation, resultant positioning, strategy, conduct and measures) influence the success of PR programs. Prior to implementation, the phases of situation analysis (data processing and evaluation), PR strategy and PR tactics need to be considered.The following items can also be evaluated by the method:

  • Quality of customer briefing materials
  • Appropriateness in specific situations
  • Comprehensibility of content, quality of photos, graphics, etc.
  • Does the content meet the information requirements of the target group?

3. Implementation
General requirements for the implementation of concept evaluation are an evaluation plan and acceptance and support from those involved with the subject of evaluation.

Specifically, the data upon which the concept is built need to be checked for uptodateness, relevance and completeness. The strategy (aims, target groups, messages, key measures) is evaluated in terms of the objectives to be resolved, and tactics are evaluated in terms of their feasibility. The connection with the strategy and objectives must be clear. It must be established whether measurable targets were defined and whether targets and target groups were properly formulated and defined. Another question to explore is whether the conclusions drawn from target definitions to messages and target groups are accurate and correct.

A pragmatic approach might be an intuitive comparison with similar PR concepts from others, but this approach would not be goal-directive in terms of an extensive and transparent communications controlling process.

A more effective option is available in the form of checklists itemizing relevant factors and "worked through" systematically by an experienced, independent professional PR expert. Maximum objectivity is achieved if the PR expert is one who was not involved in devising the concept. Similarly, expert judgments can be employed, but the criteria should be established with the involvement of an independent experienced reviewer and supplemented by expertise from other sources.

Checklists are aimed more at examining the concept structure and associated processes, while expert assessments provide qualitative comments pointing out strengths, weaknesses, particularities and other remarks, and are more likely to identify potential for improvement. Methods such as pretest, usability tests, content analysis and surveys (comprehensibility) can be used in addition.

Concept evaluations have long been called for by scientists (e.g. Dörrbecker/Fissenewert-Goßmann 1997, 89) but are rarely done in real life. The time required is about 2-3 weeks. The costs depend on the daily rates charged by the experts consulted, and also depend on whether, for example, checklists and criteria lists are already available in the company or must be developed elsewhere. It is essential to complete the concept evaluation in good time before implementing the PR program, as adjustments will need to be taken into account. The results of concept evaluation are an integral part of a comprehensive evaluation report documenting and evaluating the PR process as a whole.

4. Indicators

5. Service providers in Germany
evaluamus, Edingen-Neckarhausen

6. Links

7. Further reading

8. Case studies

Please send us short texts from your projects on this topic in the same structure as the existing case studies, and more information (pdf or links) on the methods employed in as much detail as possible.

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